Home
Twitter
RSS
Newsletter
Matt Keller
17 Oct, 2007

Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales Review

DS Review | Do they really taste like chicken?
What do Joanie Loves Chachi, Joey and AfterMASH have in common? No, they are not just all crap television shows – they were all spun off from more popular shows (Happy Days, Friends and M.A.S.H. respectively). The spinoff is usually an attempt to capitalise on the popularity of one piece of media by quickly coming up with a similar concept and hoping that your current audience will also consume the new product. As pointed out with our opening example, spinoffs are usually garbage, but there are exceptions – Frasier was spun off from Cheers and…uh…yeah. Spinoffs are not a new concept to videogames either – the Wario Land series spun off from the Super Mario Land series on the Game Boy. Square-Enix are certainly no strangers to the concept of spinoffs; many a disgruntled Final Fantasy fan will remember the rather horrid Chocobo’s Dungeon and Chocobo Racing titles released for the PlayStation in the aftermath of Final Fantasy VII. Fortunately their latest spinoff effort, Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales is actually quite a bit better than one might have expected.

The player takes control of a Chocobo simply referred to in all documentation as Chocobo (one has to name their bird, you see). Chocobo lives in a world similar to your classical Final Fantasy setting – the medieval way of life with a rather large abundance of steampunk technologies. On one particular day during story time, Shirma, the white mage and friend of all of the resident Chocobos is searching for a book. Croma, Chocobo’s best friend, discovers a rather sinister looking book which Shirma refuses to read. Being a disobedient little chump, Croma reads from the book, which just so happens to activate a dark power within the book that sucks in all of the Chocobos (except, conveniently, our hero) and, conveniently a number of other books that were in the area (Cannibal! – Ed.). Later, a rather nasty mage called Irma shows up and warns Chocobo and Shirma not to interfere with her dark plans. To put it simply, Chocobo has to journey around the world and find these other books and complete the mini-games within in order to rescue his friends and neighbours and stop Irma.

  
Irma is really looking for '101 Ways to Cook a Chocobo'

Irma is really looking for '101 Ways to Cook a Chocobo'
Close
We will be frank from the get go - Chocobo Tales is not a fully fledged Final Fantasy adventure. Now now, don’t get your panties in a twist - just because it is not another one of your ‘pointy haired kid and his rag-tag bunch of friends saves the world’ adventures doesn’t mean that it isn’t rather good. Chocobo Tales takes advantage of a lot of Square-Enix’s DS expertise from the recent Final Fantasy III remake, so it’s running on a beautiful graphics engine, with lovely visual stylings and character design. Not only that, it also poaches the best musical themes from various major Final Fantasy adventures, but also provides a lot of enjoyable original tunes. But best of all, Chocobo Tales is actually quite fun to play.

Gameplay in Chocobo Tales comes in a number of flavours. Much of the game’s story mode is presented in a fairly standard top down style, quite similar to previous Final Fantasy efforts. The game is completely stylus-driven, with buttons only coming into play for speeding up the flow of conversations. It’s quite intuitive really, and makes for speedy navigation of the game world. Story books are scattered around the game world, and the mini-games inside provide the means of progression through the main parts of the story. Each book contains a Final Fantasy-style adaptation of existing Aesop fables or Grimm Brothers tales – for instance, The Hare and the Tortoise becomes The Adamantoise and the Cactuar. The player then has to complete a mini-game that reflects the theme of the story, which is presented in a rather cool pop-up book style. Within each book there are a number of objectives that one needs to complete in order to open up the path in the story, as well as open up secret areas, rescue trapped Chocobo or gain special cards.

  
A preview of President Bush's memoirs

A preview of President Bush's memoirs
Close
What are the cards good for? Well, the other major gameplay mechanic in Chocobo Tales is a sort of Yu-Gi-Oh! inspired card battle game. Simply put, one builds a deck out of cards they find around the game and participates in battles against other enemies, or with a friend over Nintendo’s Wi-Fi Connect service. The card game itself is quite simple – each card has four colours, and in two of these coloured circles will be a sword for an attack and a shield for defence. The basic aim is to ensure that your attacks strike a colour that the opponent has not defended, and that your defensive colour corresponds with their attack to force a block. Each card represents a creature from the Final Fantasy lore, from minor creatures to the incredibly powerful summons, and in many cases, these cards have special effects such as damage enhancement and poison. It is not terribly deep, but it is quite entertaining – think of it more as a card game for those that don’t really want to get too bogged down with rules and status types, and just want to have fun.

Also strewn around the game world is a number of different challenges referred to as micro games, which again basically just means more mini-games. These other mini-games come in a number of flavours; a Minesweeper-style challenge called Bomberwall, and Cliffhanger, which will have players scrambling to stop an Adamantoise’s descent down a slope as close to the edge as possible, without him going over and many more. Complete these micro games in the requisite time and get a special card for your card battles. They might sound straightforward, but these are actually much more difficult than the mini-games in the main story mode.

  
Ifrit used his fire powers on the Chocobo, became a colonel and opened a number of 'Fried Chocobo' restaurants

Ifrit used his fire powers on the Chocobo, became a colonel and opened a number of 'Fried Chocobo' restaurants
Close
The only major area that Chocobo Tales really falters in is its long-term playability. The story mode consists of six chapters that take about an hour each to complete. To make matters worse, the mini-games are really quite easy to achieve 100 per cent completion in. It does take a little longer to rescue every one of the Chocobo in the game, however. Single-cart and multi-cart local multiplayer is available for mini-games and card battle, while Wi-Fi Connect can only support the latter. It’s a rather lean package really, but if one is lucky enough to find a few people with a copy of the game, they might get better mileage out of it.

It's possible that after a number of bad Chocobo-centric spin-off titles, one is not really in any sort of hurry to give them another go, but Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales is a pleasant surprise. Impressive graphics, fun mini-games and a really enjoyable card battle component caught us off guard. It’s just a shame that the game is a little lacking in its long term value – without a few friends for card battles, the game can only provide 6-8 hours' worth of entertainment. Nevertheless, Chocobo Tales is an experience that should appeal to gamers of all ages, not just those freaky Final Fantasy obsessives.
The Score
Chocobo Tales is more than just a bunch of mini-games, but sadly this feather powered adventure lacks staying power. 7
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales Content

Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales Review
16 Oct, 2007 It's story time.
Final Fantasy III Review
23 Apr, 2007 I once was lost, but now am found.
Ubisoft to release Final Fantasy duo in May
21 Mar, 2007 Final Fantasy III and Chocobo Tales finally on their way.
4 Comments
6 years ago
It took PALGN long enough to review this, why the delay?

But nice review regardless

Although i kinda disagree on the length of the game, and how you call it easy. I say try and get gold and all the cards (and prove it to me), then tell me how easy it is icon_smile.gif
6 years ago
Dare wrote
It took PALGN long enough to review this, why the delay?

But nice review regardless

Although i kinda disagree on the length of the game, and how you call it easy. I say try and get gold and all the cards (and prove it to me), then tell me how easy it is icon_smile.gif
*shrug* They only sent us a copy last week.
6 years ago
^ Strange

I've had the game since July, thats the only real reason I asked
(mind, its the UK version)

When was the game out in Aus?
2 years ago
I LOVE this game - its like $20 now at EBs - grab it if you see it.....
Add Comment
Like this review?
Share it with this tiny url: http://palg.nu/1yX

N4G : News for Gamers         Twitter This!

Digg!     Stumble This!

| More
  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  Out Now
European Release Date:
  Out Now
Publisher:
  Square Enix
Developer:
  Square Enix
Players:
  1-4

Extra:
Online Play

Read more...
Currently Popular on PALGN
Australian Gaming Bargains - 08/12/11
'Tis the season to be bargaining.
R18+ Legislation
R18+ Legislation
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations Preview
Hands on time with the game. Chat time with the CEO of CyberConnect 2.
PALGN's Most Anticipated Games of 2007
24 titles to keep an eye on during 2007.
PALGN's Most Anticipated Games of 2008
And you thought 2007 was populated.